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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals

Archive for 'December 2014'


    A Retrospective on TalkingNutrition in 2014

    TalkingNutrition was conceived to provide a perspective on emerging science. It has been an exciting year in many respects. Most importantly, Julia Bird and I welcomed Eric Ciappio and Rachel Murphy to the writing team. Rachel and Eric bring unique expertise/insights and add diversity to our content. We celebrated TalkingNutrition 4th anniversary in July and 1,000 blog posting in September

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    Working To Meet Nutrient Gaps in Children

    Children have the greatest risk of malnutrition because of the demand for growth and development.  In addition to macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins), essential nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids) are needed to support healthy growth, development and well-being.  The question is: are children getting enough nutrients in their diet?   

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    The Holidays Are Here: Bring on the Fad Diets!

    Google recently released their analysis of the top searches for 2014, and the most searched for diet of the year is the Paleo Diet. Others in the top 10 include the “Super Shred Diet” and “The Doctor’s Diet”. Nutrition trends like diets with fancy names or clever back stories come and go, and often when you boil them down the logic tends to fall apart. In the case of the “Paleo Diet” – which advocates a diet heavy in fruits, vegetables, and meats and avoiding anything processed (a la what a caveman would eat, hence the name)  - may in fact have “no historical basis”. Evidently, the actual diet of early hominids was revealed to be quite diverse, and ultimately there’s no evidence that their diets were any healthier.

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    Possible Concentrations of an Essential Element in the Diet

    Selenium and Chemoprevention: What Did We Learn About Nutrient Status?

    Often in science, different people look at the same data and walk away with different conclusions and interpretations, and the subsequent debate is what often leads to discovery and insight. Two publications released in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on the relationship between selenium and prostate cancer are examples of this continued debate. What can we learn from these reports?

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    Compounds Found in Chocolate May Help Cognitive Function

    Could the chocolate in your advent calendar have health benefits including improving cognition and metabolic measures?  Flavanols which are found in green tea, red wine, cocoa, and yes, chocolate have previously been reported to be associated with cardiovascular and metabolic health.  The results of study published this week, suggest beneficial effects of flavanol consumption from cocoa in older adults.  

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    CDC Study finds Sodium Intake is Lower than Expected

    New study finds 24h dietary recall overestimate sodium and potassium intake. Using objective measures of nutritional status, in this case 24 hour urinary collection, Mercado and colleagues suggest that the discrepancy may partially reflect inaccurate food databases. In other words, foods may contain less than expected amounts of sodium.

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    Does fortification work outside of the US?

    Food fortification has been an extremely powerful public health tool, improving the nutrient intakes of the public and preventing nutritional deficiencies. Much of the data we refer to in TalkingNutrition is based on information in the United States, however today we have new data from Ireland showing a similar beneficial impact of fortification.

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    Raising awareness about healthy livers and vitamin E

    With over one-third of American children being classified as overweight or obese, we are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of the childhood obesity epidemic. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one such consequence in which fat accumulates in the liver, resulting in inflammation and disruptions in liver function, with the potential to result in liver failure. Right now, the primary treatment for this condition involve lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, but an emerging option is that of vitamin E supplementation.

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    More Evidence that Vitamin D Status Affects Health

    Low maternal vitamin D status during pregnancy has been associated with offspring language impairment. A new study finds maternal vitamin D deficiency (measured at week 18 of pregnancy) is associated with impaired lung development in the child at 6y of age, neurocognitive difficulties at 10y of age, increased risk of eating disorders in adolescence, and lower peak bone mass at 20 years.

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    Possible Concentrations of an Essential Element in the Diet

    The Future is Coming: Understanding Nutrient Requirements by Gender and Genetics

    Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are based upon an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) – the average daily nutrient intake to meet the requirements of half the individuals. Adjustments are made for life stage (age, pregnancy, lactation)because they influence requirements. Because gender affects nutrient requirements, DRIs are established separately for males and females. As genetic insights grow, expect current male and female DRIs to be delineated into appropriate subgroups.

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    Counting steps is Good. What about Sunshine Goals for Health?

    Even though vitamin D can be made in skin exposed to sunshine, vitamin D insufficiency is a global health concern. Normal serum 25(OH)D3 concentrations can usually be achieved by exposing arms and face to sunshine for 15-20 minutes daily. Clothing, use of sunscreens, skin color, geographical location (near the equator or the poles of the earth) and time of day also affect vitamin D synthesis.

    Mazahery and colleagues examined serum 25(OH)D3 status of Middle Eastern women living in New Zealand. 

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    Vitamin E Needs a 9-1-1 Call

    The FDA finalized new pregnancy and lactation labeling requirements on prescription drugs and biological products. The ruling involves a subsection, Females and Males of Reproductive Potential, that will encompass information about potential effects on fertility. I wish there was more emphasis on nutrition recommendations, especially vitamin E, with respect to fertility, full-term pregnancies and baby development.

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    Why Apply Drug Standards to Vitamin D Supplementation Studies?

    What is a reasonable risk reduction goal to use in evaluating randomized, controlled trials (RCTs)? MedPage Today is negating benefits of vitamin D supplementation based on a meta-analysis which applied a 15% risk reduction target. Isn’t any nutritionally-attributable reduction in risk of fracture, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer beneficial? If pharmaceutical treatments fail to achieve a 15% risk reduction, are they dismissed?

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    Controversies in Science: A Tempest in a Teapot?

    The American Society for Nutrition held its Advances & Controversies in Clinical Nutrition conference. It began with an exciting discussion around the benefits of dietary supplementation. If you are interested in another summary, see ASN student blog by Sheela Sinharoy.

    Dr Johanna Dwyer, Tufts University and NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, reviewed data NHANES dietary intake data. She emphasized that nationally representative data, NHANES, finds many Americans not consuming recommended micronutrient intakes from the foods we eat (see Keast et al, 2013 and Fulgoni et al, 2011). 

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    What Came First, Statistics or the Egg?

    Maintaining or improving healthy eating habits is on the mind of many people as we enter the holiday season.  But what to eat can be confusing because of mixed messages.  Nutritional epidemiology is often used as a starting place to test relationships between nutrients, foods or a variety of foods (diet patterns) and health outcomes.  The caveat to epidemiological studies is that unlike an intervention, nutrients or foods are not controlled and individuals often have very different characteristics.  As Nicklas and colleagues point out in a recent publication, this can result in inconsistent findings if the statistical approach, covariates used and assumptions are not appropriate for the study.

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    Put Your Mind to Rest, Make a Plan to Consume More Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    Most people associate omega-3 fatty acids with cardiovascular. Because research shows that consumption of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosashexaenoic acid (DHA) may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, regulatory agencies in the United States and Europe have approved health claims.

    Healthy levels of omega-3 are important for more than the heart. DHA is also structurally essential for the brain. Observational studies have found children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder 

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    Possible Concentrations of an Essential Element in the Diet

    Screening for vitamin D deficiency - is it worth it?

    With over 90% of Americans not getting enough vitamin D in their diet, vitamin D deficiency is one of the biggest issues in nutrition today. With this in mind, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), recently released a recommendation on screening for vitamin D deficiency, stating that there is insufficient evidence to make a conclusion. What should we take away from this report?

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    Colorize Your Plate with Carotenoids!

    For decades, a cluster of outcomes – hypertension, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia and gout – have been associated with being overweight/obese and risk on non-communicable diseases. Over time, the term metabolic syndrome has been used to describe this constellation of risk factors.

    Liu and colleagues report serum carotenoid concentrations and metabolic syndrome prevalence from a cross-sectional study of 2,148 adults

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    Antioxidant Vitamins: An Elixir for Life?

    It is difficult to adhere to goals during this season of indulgences and special events. Self-monitoring has been shown to influence behavior even though self-reported data  may be woefully inaccurate for scientific purposes.

    Inflammatory responses affect health, immunity and cancer risk. Metabolism generates reactive oxygen (and nitrogen) species which damage cells, mutate DNA and contribute to oxidative stress.

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